How do you help a golfer make swing changes without getting overly technical and clogging their mind? That was the challenge we set TaylorMade ambassador Nick Dougherty when we gave 18-handicapper Andy Edom some one-on-one time with the former tour pro at Wentworth. Check out the results in part three of our Game.Improved Series below...
Straight off the bat, Nick was able to identify some of the issues that plague Andy in his quest to improve. It's something many golfers, professional and amateur, struggle with due to the inherent nature of the game.
"I can relate to Andy," says Nick. "He’s an overthinker because he tries so hard. It’s an admirable quality but one that’s thwarted him because sometimes the more we get invested consciously, the more we get in our own way and I think Andy had a little bit of that going on."
Specifically, Andy struggles with a two-way miss off the tee and had a preset move at address that threw his set-up out of whack and actually exacerbated this problem. As Dougherty explained, it was like he was ticking boxes in his mind before pulling the trigger. As a result, there was no flow to any part of Andy's process, from the pre-shot routine through to impact.
"It’s the challenge of coaching to help someone get better without turning inwards with their thoughts. The last thing I need to do is give Andy 10 different things to go and think about. As much as I felt a thirst for information from him. He wants to know why, so this is why and this is what we’re going to do that’s really easy.
"I think that’s really important. I want to understand the inner workings of it, but at the same time, I want to use that information. The problem is, quite often, if we just have that information, how do we apply it to a movement that’s over so quickly?"
Discipline is key
The secret ingredient for anyone looking to make changes without getting bogged down in technical thoughts, Nick says, is discipline. And a massive part of that begins with accepting the journey to better golf isn't always going to be one of pure joy.
"Making peace with the fact that there’s going to be inconsistency is one of the greatest freedoms in our game. It actually allows us to play way better golf," adds Dougherty.
"Go to the range and do the reps, whether it's block or random practise. You need to get used to a feeling that you’re not used to, so ignore where it’s going. You have no right to care where it’s going because you’re not playing golf.
"You can break it up with a normal shot where you go through your routine and hit to a flag but if you try and practise a swing and then I say I need you to hit it close as well, it’s not going to work."
Feels over positions
Having been through the ringer with his own game, Nick has a philosophy on the best way to help golfers improve technically while retaining the clarity of mind to reap the rewards. Rather than trying to get the body, club or both into certain positions, the Englishman is a big advocate for coaching a feel that will, over time, naturally address any inadequacies.
For Andy, that meant working on hitting the shot opposite to his tendency in order to become more consistent.
"He sets up beautifully every time and then right before he pulls the trigger he decides to make it more difficult by closing the shoulders," Nick said of Andy's set-up.
"It completely shifts what the club wants to do. From that moment Andy’s swing is always working in-to-out. We tend to build compensations so I wanted him to feel like he was hitting these nice, little low fades. This was forcing him to move better with his lower half.
"It's hard because it happens in real time but I like things like that because it provides a feeling rather than, ‘Right, we need to get the club there and then into this position and then you want to feel it go there’. That stuff is too complicated.
"He hit some horror shots, which is good because it showed me he was really tapping into it. We needed to get in among the weeds and get really ugly."
Something that can aid the process is to take advantage of modern equipment. For example, not only are the TaylorMade Stealth driver and Stealth Plus fairway wood extremely forgiving, they can also be adjusted to suit an individual's swing. So, whether you hit it too far left or right, too high or too low, there is a setting that will help.
From the range at Wentworth, the next challenge for Andy, and other golfers with a similar dilemma, is to separate what he does in practise from the task on the course. Which is to get the ball in the hole in the fewest shots possible. The best way to do this is to take on board some strategy tips for improving golfers that will ensure he is focusing on the right things.
"Get really comfortable being uncomfortable and then you go, ‘Right, done’. It’s like going to the gym. If we go and do bicep curls, we don’t then leave the gym and start having to think about our arms getting bigger.
"That’s how it works and that’s what this should be like. We get in, we do the work, then we leave and go play the game. It takes discipline but it's by far and away in my experience the best way.
"This is not something we’re taking on the course. I have to rely that he’s not going to do that. If he does, he does so at his own peril."
A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
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